Idaho Must Stand Up to Big Tobacco

During American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout®, Cancer Patients, Survivors, and Advocates Urge Lawmakers to Pass Tobacco Control Measures to Protect Public Health

November 14, 2023

BOISE, Idaho – November 14, 2023 – Elected officials across the state must do more to support Idahoans who want to quit using tobacco products, say cancer patients, survivors, and advocates who are marking the American Cancer Society’s 48th annual Great American Smokeout®. The Great American Smokeout is a day for people who use tobacco to create a plan to quit.

In Idaho, tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of disease and death, and smoking is now linked to at least 12 types of cancers, including lung, liver and colorectal cancers. Each year, more than 1,800 die from a smoking-related disease each year in Idaho alone. Although these hazards are well established, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show 12% of adults in Idaho smoke. These products are often highly addictive, and it can be difficult for people to quit using tobacco once they have started.

“The Great American Smokeout is not just an opportunity for people who use tobacco to set a plan to quit. It’s also a clear wake up call for lawmakers to say it’s time for Idaho to stand up to Big Tobacco,” said Randy Johnson, Government Relations Director, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “For too long, Idaho has allowed the tobacco industry to addict people to deadly, cancer-causing products. It’s time to say, ‘enough is enough.’ Our residents deserve better.” 

Research shows that strong tobacco control policies, like increased taxes on these highly addictive products, can help people quit smoking. 

“Nearly 70% of adults who smoke want to quit, but quitting is incredibly difficult. We know that a well-funded tobacco cessation and prevention program is so important to provide the support needed to help people quit, and to help prevent kids and young adults from starting to use tobacco,” Johnson said.
Tobacco use is one of the primary drivers of cancer-related health disparities. Tobacco companies have specifically targeted communities of color, limited income communities, veterans, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people and youth has caused disproportionate tobacco use among these populations. 

In 2021, the prevalence of any tobacco product use was higher among adults living in rural areas (26.2%) compared to adults living in urban areas (17.5%). Cigarette smoking was higher among adults living in rural areas in the US (18.0%) compared to adults living in urban areas (10.5%) and adults in rural areas used smokeless tobacco at two and a half times the rate of adults in urban areas (4.5% vs. 1.8%). Achieving health equity relies heavily on eliminating tobacco use.

“On this Great American Smokeout, we urge Idaho lawmakers to support people who want to quit using tobacco by moving quickly to increase funding for tobacco prevention and control work in Idaho and treat electronic smoking devices consistent with other commercial tobacco products in all areas under state law,” Johnson said. “Passing these policies will help every resident of our state by reducing tobacco use and addiction, leading to fewer deaths and suffering from tobacco-related diseases like cancer.” 

Free resources on quitting tobacco can be found at Project Filter or through the American Cancer Society’s cessation program, Empowered to Quit.


The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that improves the lives of people with cancer and their families. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and advanced proven tobacco control measures. We’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers to end cancer as we know it, for everyone. Join the fight by visiting

More Press Releases AboutTobacco Taxes, Idaho

Media Contacts

Shawn O'Neal
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager